Monday, June 16, 2014

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

The weekend came and went too fast, but we did manage to visit the Atomic Dome/Hiroshima Peace Memorial. I wanted to stay there a lot longer but when you have a 5-year-old with no attention span who's still adjusting to life on the other side of the world...well, you know.

The dome before the bomb circa 1930
2014-06-14 14.10.39.editIt's one of the few buildings still standing from the atomic bomb. It took a few years for Japan to decide they wanted to turn it into a memorial. So many wanted the reminder gone.

It's a jarring sight. One you can't soon forget. To stand there and contemplate that only a few decades ago the destructive force of the atomic bomb ripped this city apart and the people within. Horrifying but one that's stands as a reminder for peace.

I'll definitely find times to come here by myself to truly contemplate what this means.

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What the sign said about the dome.
We headed around the rest of the park and found other statues and memorials for peace.

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We then found the bell for peace. We each rang it. And Gabe did so very loudly!

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Then we found the Jizo statue that still has the atomic shadow created from the blast.

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Japan loves origami and they create some pretty amazing art out of it. All of these pictures are of tiny origami cranes made into beautiful works of art, all for peace.

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2014-06-14 13.13.42.editThis is just a taste of their amazing vending machines that you can find on every corner! You need water! Boom. Coffee? hot or cold? juice, soda...some even have beer.

Gabe got pretty bored and tired after an hour or so but he was a trooper and kept at it!

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The rest of the day we spent at the Aeon Mall. It has a really nice dollar store, Toys R Us, a big grocery store with other department store type things on other floors, and good food. We ventured on the trains. Archie knows a lot of Japanese and is getting better as time goes on. So he can ask for train tickets and order our food. I'm not there yet, but look forward to the day when I can.

Sunday was a relaxing day of bill paying and paper work and puzzles, TV watching, okonomiyaki! and just chilling.

We should be getting into our apartment on Friday. And hopefully our resident visas will come through within the next couple of weeks so we can get cell phones and other things.

The next big daring adventure will be to learn to drive on the left side of the road. Archie tried it from work with his boss who's been driving here for awhile and with Gabe and me from his boss's house to our hotel. It was pretty nerve-racking!

We are all looking forward to our own space and routine again! We've been going a bit crazy living out of suitcases and in hotels.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Flying and Arriving in Japan

It's been a whirlwind of a week. We headed out bright and early on Saturday morning. We flew to Denver to get on the plane that took us to Tokyo. Gabe refused to sleep until it was about 2 hours before landing....that didn't work out so well. He was in his deep sleep by that time and we took him of the plane literally kicking and screaming while he was half awake and half asleep. It was miserable.

Our hotel

Then we got on the last plane flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima. The plane is small so they couldn't fit all of our luggage on the plane so they said they'd send it down the next day to our hotel. Gabe had some underwear and clothes but Archie and I didn't. We were super smelly and sticky...yuck. We crashed at the hotel and didn't have any clothes to get into so we stuck on our smelly items and went and got breakfast at.....

Yup, McDonald's. Gabe really wanted pancakes. They taste the same! Then Archie had to make it up to work on Monday and took the train. The commute is about 3-hours round trip. So it makes for some long days. But once we get settled into our apartment he'll be able to carpool and it'll cut the time in half, hopefully.

We have some friends here already that came from Utah last summer. So Amanda has been showing us around. We even bought baseball tickets for next month. Hiroshima has their own baseball team, The Carps! It'll be really fun.

We took in Costco pizza for lunch and then went back to her house and Gabe played with her girls for a bit till it was time to make it back to the hotel. We had to walk under in the tunnel. But we couldn't find our way for a bit---we got lost and had to ask someone for directions! We found it. Gabe was scared for a bit but OK after we made it to our hotel.

The next day we spent more time in the hotel and ventured out to get an ice cream cone. I really want to figure out the train system this weekend so we can go out and do more things this next week. But for now, we stick close to home so we don't get lost!

I don't have any pics yet since my cell phone doesn't work here and I won't get a phone for a couple of more once that's done I'll be posting more pics like crazy!

Everyone is really helpful and nice. Most of their menus have pictures so usually I can just point at it.

Today, in Japan since it's 15 hours ahead of Utah, is my birthday. Pretty uneventful it will be this year at least the actual day. But I'm looking forward to getting settled and celebrating soon, out on the town! Happy birthday to me :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Home-finding Trip Part Deux

Japan has some pretty awesome things. I've already talked about the food. The first day was ramen. The second day we tried curry. Soooooo good. And the third day we tried okonomiyaki, Hiroshima style! All so very good.

Okonomiyaki Hiroshima Style! Yum

One amazing thing about Japan, at least what I noticed in Hiroshima, was their amazing customer service. Everyone is nice and super polite. You feel like a king no matter what restaurant or store you walk into. There is no tipping in Japan. They wouldn't know what to do with that extra money. They pride themselves on a job well-done. I'm hoping the service industry is paid a bit better than here in the States!

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Outside our hotel

Archie spoke Japanese 20 years ago or so; he's a bit rusty but it started coming back to him while we there. It was fun watching his face light up as he started to use it and understand it a bit! I tried to learn their two syllabaries, Hiragana and Katakana, while I was there. I did it once but I haven't picked it back up since. But I'm hoping to gain some basics while there so I can get around and maybe talk with some people and make a new friend or two. Archie's company is providing tutors for both of us and I intend to use them!

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Archie's work put us up in the hotel by the Hiroshima airport. It's an hour out of downtown Hiroshima. But that's the place we needed to be everyday. So they dropped the ball on that one. Our escort had to drive out an hour and an hour back just to get us around and back. It was very inconvenient. But we made the best of it. There are a couple of beautiful gardens right next to the hotel. So we took part of a day to explore those. It was tranquil and peaceful. It was a much-needed break.

2014-05-27 08.43.442014-05-22 23.44.29But we think that Archie picked up his flesh-eating bacteria there in the hotel. He used their pillows; I brought my own. We will never know for sure, though. He got on antibiotics within a day or two of coming home. Though I wouldn't wish this on anyone, Archie did get an extra week here so we have been able to get everything done that we needed to--well, almost.

I spent last week saying goodbye to a lot of people. I played my last softball game, had my goodbye party/last book club, got to drink Death Stars at El Chihuahua with more friends.

2014-05-30 19.45.21.editThis week was spent packing stuff and then hauling it into storage, closing accounts, getting bills paid online, shopping, and making sure all the cleaning, fixing, etc gets done within the next week or two to rent out our place.

It's fast and furious and makes me sad to leave my kitties, friends, and family. But excited for the new adventure.

I have been able to visit my kitties a bit this week and that's helped just seeing them adjusting and getting along. Especially Shadow. She gets to go outside in a fenced backyard and she's loving it. She has even lost weight in the week and 2 days she's been there! Wolfy and Frodo have taken over the living room at my parents'. So I think they're doing OK too. I miss them already but know they are in good hands.

Only a few things to wrap up Friday and off we go!

Shadow lovin' the outdoors!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bon Voyage, Utah and Home-Finding Trip

I'm pretty sure we're leaving this Saturday, June 7th but we still don't have visas in-hand yet so you never know....but our tickets have been bought!

May 12-15th I headed down to Vegas with two of my besties and we hit the town hard...well, not too hard. I'm getting old ;)

This pic encapsulates our awesome adventure. This one was taken at Coyote Ugly where Brittney got up onstage and danced her patootie off!

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After all that fun it was time for Archie and me to head off to Japan for our home-finding trip. It was fast and furious and stressful and fun.

Hiroshima is really an amazing city and I only saw a little bit of it. Jet lag was pretty tough. I woke up at 4 am almost every morning. So it made for some long days. 

Japan is 15 hours ahead of Utah so that made for some interestingly timed phone conversations with my mom, who was watching Gabe for that week! The flight was really long and it never was night. We kept up with the sun the whole time. That was so fascinating. The International Dateline is in the Pacific Ocean and it heads east. So Japan is a lot further ahead than say England even though the flight time is comparable! Just crazy. And we lost a day. So we left Sunday in Utah and arrived Monday night in Japan.

Tuesday was our home-finding trip with Paul, a Japanese-Canadian! He was fantastic work with. He told us everything he could think of on Japanese culture and getting around Hiroshima! We ate Japanese ramen and it was the most delicious ramen ever. I should have taken a pic but I was too jet-lagged to think straight and I know I'll have more opportunities in the future. It also rained all day, so Paul even bought us each an umbrella so we could stay dry.

Wednesday was a trip to Gabe's school to meet the principal and take a tour of the school. We're excited! I think Gabe will really enjoy it. Then it was off to pick our apartment after we had narrowed our search to 2 apartments. We chose the one with two stories. It was the biggest apartment Paul had shown and it's close to Archie's boss and his family that are also from Utah working for Micron out in Japan like us. The subway is two seconds away as well. So it just worked out nicely for us.

Here are a few photos of our new place! We have some lighter furniture to help brighten the darker floors and cabinets. It should be nice. A little cozy but comfy.

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Here are a couple of photos of Gabe's school.

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The wheel has a bunch of different areas where the kids talk about how they fit in or didn't fit in each day or week. Some are risk-taker, caring, reflective. The older kids help out the younger ones with planting and gardening!

This post is getting a bit long so I'll add another post on the rest of our home-finding trip soon.